Trump's New View of Climate Change: 'I Don't Think It's a Hoax'
Again. Election Day 2012 was an important day for Donald Trump. It may have been important for the planet, too. As Americans across the country traveled to the polls to select their next president, Trump tweeted 46 times. He endorsed Mitt Romney. He congratulated himself for The Apprentice s high ratings. He asked whether Americans wanted a president who bows to the Saudis. And he advanced a claim that followed him around for years: that human-caused climate change was a hoax invented by a foreign government. The concept of global warming, he tweeted , was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Over the next few years, he dubbed climate change a hoax, a total hoax , an expensive hoax , and a total, and very expensive, hoax . He also called it very expensive ... bullshit . Election days have come and gone, and another one draws near. And Trump, now president of the United States, has been called to account for that view. On Sunday evening, in a lengthy interview on 60 Minutes , President Trump clarified that he no longer believes climate change is a hoax. I think somethings happening, he told the journalist Lesley Stahl. Somethings changing, and itll change back again. I dont think its a hoax. I think theres probably a difference, but I dont know that its man-made. I will say this, he continued. I dont wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I dont wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I dont wanna be put at a disadvantage. Read: Trump has done more than pull out of the Paris Agreement Trumps answer contains some new claimsbut in many ways, its classic Trump, weaving together some of his most common environmental themes. Theres a sense of grievance: the idea that even if climate change isnt a hoax, its only role is to cost people money and harm American industry. There are mangled facts: Contrary to Trumps claims, for instance, all evidence suggests that climate change is man-made. As one of NASA s lead climate scientists happened to tweet Sunday afternoon , all of the recent trends in climate are due to human activity. And theres the most important element of all: The president really doesnt seem to have any clear views on climate change. Trump has overseen one of the most consequential overhauls of U.S. climate policy: leaving the Paris Agreement , slashing rules against coal pollution , rolling back fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks . Yet he doesnt have any opinions about climate change other than a base-level skepticism of it. This lets Trump regularly shift his claims based on whom hes talking to. When addressing his base, for instance, he implies that climate change doesnt exist in the most trollish ways possible. In a tweet last December, amid a frigid cold snap on the East Coast, he joked, Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Read: The president doesnt care to understand global warming. But when talking face-to-face with people who accept climate change, hes more equivocal. In late November 2016, he told editors and executives at The New York Times , I think there is some connectivity between human activity and climate change. When Thomas Friedman, a writer for the Times op-ed page, said that climate change was very near and dear to my heart, Trump replied that he would keep an open mind on the issue. Im looking at it very closely, Tom, he said. The same dynamic played out on Sunday, as Trump struggled to come off as thoughtful in response to Stahls implacable, and mostly excellent, questioning. I wish you could go to Greenland , she told the president, watch these huge chunks of ice just falling into the ocean, raising the sea levels. And you dont know whether or not that would have happened with or without man. You dont know, Trump replied. That just isnt true, and Stahl said so, replying that your scientists at NOAA and NASA have shown ice loss at the poles is driven by warming temperatures . We have scientists that disagree with that, Trump answered. Im not denying climate change. But it could very well go back. You know, were talking about over millions of years But thats denying it, said Stahl. The two then went back and forth on whether storms such as Hurricane Michael have gotten worse because of climate changethe answer is yes, but its complicated before Trump implied that he couldnt trust scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley. Trump, meanwhile, has allowed his own political agenda to blind him to the facts. Last year, researchers at a staggering array of U.S. federal institutionsincluding NASA , the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Naval Postgraduate School published the Climate Science Special Report at Congresss behest. They surveyed the best-available climate science and reached a number of conclusions that would evidently shock the president , including that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Trump should read it.